The sky beams blue above Grantown on Spey this morning; the siskins call contentedly in the street; and this makes me seethe.
This morning I was up at half-past-two, a little earlier than the past two days but not much, and by three I was leaving the Grant Arms bound for a wildcat site. The day before yesterday it was my privilege to speak at length to Chris Bremner and yesterday to Pete Cairns, both local naturalists, knowers of the wildcat, and proponents of its conservation. From them I gleaned many facets of cat lore, and learned of sites in which - with extraordinary good fortune - wildcats might be seen in Speyside.
So it was that this morning I was out at three, driving to a site as light rain began to fall. I reached the remote road's end recommended by Pete as dawn mustered its forces; but dawn today was defeated by the low, grey, sulking clouds which capped the valley. Pete's suggested strategy was to walk from here across the wild moor, scanning for cats. When I arrived it was still too dark to see anything by walking, so I sat watching the wind-bullied grass in the valley from a promontory. Wildcats are known to hunt this grassy valley too.
As I sat in my car, searching the grass in the gloom, the World Service keeping me quiet company, the rain grew heavier. It was no longer the dilettante rain of my drive here; rather now it was fat wet rain, breaking on my windscreen in persistent patter. I sat longer, my window half open, filling my lungs with the song of wrens and curlews, with the distant chime of a cuckoo and with bright highland air. And the rain grew heavier still.
Finally, I knew that, even should dawn come, a walk on the moor in the thrashing rain would be futile. So I drove to the Grant Arms and to my bed.
I woke two hours later with the sky a cheerful blue outside, siskins calling, and a wild walk on a moor lost to the treacherous Speyside weather.
Tonight I try a different site. Tomorrow again the moor. I shall not see a wildcat, but I shall enjoy failing.